The cosmopolitan VOYEUR

German-born Helmut Newton is a legend in the world of photography. There is probably not a single celebrity the star photographer has not photographed. Most often women. Sometimes with their clothes on, But preferably naked. And mostly for his sake: I only do what I like!
Helmut Newton Naked and Dressed
Helmut Newton in front of his iconic ‘Naked and Dressed’

Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton was THE FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER who explored the boundaries of female portraiture in glossy magazines.

Dominance and subjection. Power, passion, desire and pleasure. Pure sexuality. All frozen in a stylised moment against bridge railings, with boots and whips or chains and high heels. Not as some simple pornographic genre. And no equality between men and women. More as portraits of women in authoritative, dominating roles. Tall, focused, strong and naked or clothed – ready to conquer the world of men.

A kind of photographic voyeurism that attracted women – and men – who readily allowed themselves to be immortalised on the front page of major international fashion magazines such as Vogue, on album covers and in artistic photography books. Helmut Newton was the fashion photographer who explored the boundaries of female portraiture in glossy magazines. A star photographer, who acknowledged voyeurism but flirtatiously maintained that he was a bit more than just that!

Helmut Newton

Specialist books and portraits of the German photographer agree that he was an artist who only used fashionwear’s lines and textile’s texture as a justification for something completely different! Perhaps because it wasn’t a big leap to go from the world of fashion to his pictures of the hidden, of the revealing. Perhaps it was also this hidden attraction to the erotic that meant so many stars queued up to be photographed: Michelle Pfeiffer, Catherine Deneuve, Charlotte Rampling… the list goes on forever! Even though it was most often women who posed in front of Newton’s camera, he also photographed David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino. But Helmut Newton was fascinated by the female form, or as he put it: “Under every fully dressed woman is a more (or less) well-formed body. When I look at a woman, I first look at her shoes and hope that she’s wearing high heels. It makes a woman very sexy – and makes her a little threatening.”

Helmut Newton
STYLISED REALITY. The perfect picture required a small army of hairdressers and makeup artists. Even the smallest lock of hair had to be perfect.

B for Big Nudes!

One of the most fantastic examples of this game with the hidden and the revealed, is the picture he made in 1981, Naked and Dressed. A picture with four female models. In fact it is two pictures that are reminiscent of two altar panels. Almost identical yet as different as night and day. The first picture is of the models wearing only high heels, which fascinated Newton so much. (As fashion creator Karl Lagerfeld once expressed it: For Newton, a women wasn’t naked unless she was wearing high heels!). The other picture is an exact copy, apart from now the women are wearing clothes. Then there is another detail that separates the photographs: Time. Because the second photograph was taken some time after the first, so the light and the shadows are different. ‘Naked and Dressed’ was used for the cover of the French version of Vogue in November 1981.

The portraits of the naked women was also in its way, a parting of the ways when it came to Newton’s work with the major fashion magazines. In 1980, he started his black and white series, which would define his image of women: strong, self-assertive and in full control. The series was called ‘Big Nudes’ and were inspired by a number of original police photographs of members Red Army Faction, a terrorist group. Newton made a number of portraits of naked women. The images are full-size and can be seen in the Museum of Photography in Berlin. Nothing was left to chance. Newton’s method required an army of makeup artists, hairdressers, dressers and stylists, which meant that magazine publishers had to pay a fortune for a Helmut Newton picture.

Newton’s pictures are works of art. And some of his pictures fetch huge sums at auction. For example, a collector paid DKK 1 million for ‘Naked and Dressed’ at an action at Christie's in 2008.

Helmut Newton
BERGSTRÖM OVER PARIS. With clear references to classic painters, Newton constructed his pictures with great precision.
Helmut Newton
JUNE NEWTON. During his exile in Australia, Newton married actress June Brunell, who would later work under the pseudonym Alice Springs.

Helmut Newton

Life & Lifestyle

B for Big Nudes!

One of the most fantastic examples of this game with the hidden and the revealed, is the picture he made in 1981, Naked and Dressed. A picture with four female models. In fact it is two pictures that are reminiscent of two altar panels. Almost identical yet as different as night and day. The first picture is of the models wearing only high heels, which fascinated Newton so much. (As fashion creator Karl Lagerfeld once expressed it: For Newton, a women wasn’t naked unless she was wearing high heels!). The other picture is an exact copy, apart from now the women are wearing clothes. Then there is another detail that separates the photographs: Time. Because the second photograph was taken some time after the first, so the light and the shadows are different. ‘Naked and Dressed’ was used for the cover of the French version of Vogue in November 1981.

The portraits of the naked women was also in its way, a parting of the ways when it came to Newton’s work with the major fashion magazines. In 1980, he started his black and white series, which would define his image of women: strong, self-assertive and in full control. The series was called ‘Big Nudes’ and were inspired by a number of original police photographs of members Red Army Faction, a terrorist group. Newton made a number of portraits of naked women. The images are full-size and can be seen in the Museum of Photography in Berlin. Nothing was left to chance. Newton’s method required an army of makeup artists, hairdressers, dressers and stylists, which meant that magazine publishers had to pay a fortune for a Helmut Newton picture.

Newton’s pictures are works of art. And some of his pictures fetch huge sums at auction. For example, a collector paid DKK 1 million for ‘Naked and Dressed’ at an action at Christie's in 2008.

Helmut Newton
CLEAR SEXUAL REFERENCES. “When I look at a woman, I first look at her shoes and hope that she’s wearing high heels. It makes a woman very sexy.” HELMUT NEWTON

See Helmut Newton photography in Berlin

THE LOBBY OF THE NEWTON FOUNDATION/MUSEUM OF PHOTOGRAPHY ADORNED WITH NEWTON’S BIG NUDES.

Museum Of Photography, Jebensstraße 2, 10623 Berlin – Helmut Newton’s Private Property Entrance fee: EUR 10. Monday: Closed. Open: 11:00 - 19:00. Thursday until 20:00. Guided tours possible. www.helmut-newton.com

The Helmut Newton Foundation occupies the lowest storeys of the Museum of Photography in Berlin. The museum has a permanent exhibition called “Helmut Newton’s Private Property” in front of individual works by Helmut Newton and his wife Alice Springs and by a number of other artists.

The exhibition also included a number of Newton’s cameras, private photographs and art collection, his library and posters fro exhibitions and countless publications with Helmut Newton’s photographs.

Helmut Newton
CLEAR SEXUAL REFERENCES. “When I look at a woman, I first look at her shoes and hope that she’s wearing high heels. It makes a woman very sexy.” HELMUT NEWTON

Champagne, Whiskey & Newton

NEWTON BAR, CHARLOTTENSTRASSE 57, BERLIN. WWW.NEWTON-BAR.DE

If you are interested in Helmut Newton, Berlin is a great place to visit, because in the city centre just a brisk 15-minute walk from Potsdamer Platz is Newton Bar, which celebrates Helmut Newton. The bar – with a humidor and everything else – is decorated with many of Newton’s photographs. Unsurprisingly, the wall behind the bar is covered with photographs from his series ‘Big Nudes’. A stylish bar – but perhaps a bit expensive.

The Newton Bar Berlin
The Newton Bar is a great place to visit in Berlin.